February 25, 2015
India's Health Minister Pleads With Citizens To Remain Calm Amidst Swine Flu Outbreak

Nearly five years after the World Health Organization declared that the swine flu pandemic was over, India's Health Minister is pleading with citizens to remain calm despite the local authorities limiting public gathering. According to the BBC, more than 200 citizens of Gujarat City have died after being infected with swine flu, with more than 15,000 individuals being affected by the outbreak.

In 2015 alone, thousands of swine flu cases have been diagnosed, with more cropping up each day. An interview with Federal Health Minister JP Nadda revealed that the Indian outbreak is concerning to officials, but "no mutation of the virus" had been found. Between changes to public gathering rules and the rising wave of panic among local citizens, Indian officials are having difficulty keeping the public calm.

Thus far, multiple festivals scheduled in Ahmedabad have been canceled, and citizens must request permission from local authorities before holding a public gathering, such as a wedding or funeral. The health ministry is attempting to control the spread of infection by ensuring guests at public gatherings are wearing personal protection equipment.

As the Inquisitr reported last year, the United States is monitoring potential outbreaks of swine flu, particularly in areas along the border where illegal immigration is most common. However, not all systems are set up to rapidly detect swine flu symptoms or prevent the spread of infection. Like Ahmedabad, nearby Rajasthan and Maharashtra have also reported high rates of swine flu.

First discovered in 2009, swine flu can be transmitted from animal to human, causing a severe respiratory infection in affected individuals, according to the Mayo Clinic. Because the virus is more common in the winter months, an increase in the number of people infected with H1N1 is not surprising this time of year.

Swine flu, also known as H1N1, hasn't disappeared entirely since the last pandemic. According to the International Business Times, swine flu is far from eradicated in many areas of India and continues to claim the lives of hundreds. Since the pandemic in 2009-2010, however, numbers of affected individuals have been low until December, 2014, when the current outbreak was reported.

In New Delhi, multiple factors are being blamed for the uptick in swine flu diagnoses, from lack of proper pre-screening procedures to limited access to necessary medication, the Times of India outlined. As health officials are often not presented with a case until late stages, there is evidence that improved public health education is needed to prevent another pandemic from occurring.